Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sep. 27-Oct. 3, 2010)

I am a huge fan of stainless steel water bottles. I have actually amassed a pretty large collection of them in my attempt to find the "perfect" water bottle for me. (Easy to clean, keeps liquid COLD yet doesn't sweat on the outside, doesn't leak, no funny noises when I drink from it, etc. are a few of the qualities that I have been in search of.) Alas, all of my many water bottles seemed to fall short in at least one or more areas. I began to think that maybe the perfect water bottle just didn't exist. My hope was restored though once I discovered this beauty...

Image found here.

This is the Thermos Vacuum Insulated Hydration Bottle. This water bottle is soooo amazing and all of my other water bottles are collecting dust because I will ONLY use this one now. It is just that good. It never leaks or sweats water to the outside, it's easy to drink from, and very easy to clean. But it's best feature in my opinion is that it keeps liquid COLD!!! For hours and hours and hours!! On Saturday for instance I took a full water bottle with me to go shopping. I put 3 ice cubes in it before we left home and after spending 4+ hours in a hot car (it was in the 90s) it still had the ice cubes left in it when I took a swig. AMAZING!! I actually used this bottle when I ran the half-marathon too (I had a strap thing that I made work with this bottle rather than the flimsy plastic bottle it came with.) It probably looked like I was carrying some coffee with me, but I didn't care. I don't seem to get my thirst quenched properly unless I'm drinking cold beverages and this little bottle kept me in cold water from start to finish. If you can't tell, I am a huge fan of this little hydration bottle!!

This actually ties into the weekly challenge for this drink water, and lots of it!! Water is an essential nutrient to keep our bodies healthy and performing their best. It helps keep your muscles and organs hydrated, cushions your joints, keeps your skin clear from blemishes, assists in weight loss, transports oxygen and nutrients to cells, eliminates toxins and wastes from the body, and regulates body temperature. Not getting enough water can make us eat more (confusing hunger with thirst), make our minds fuzzy and unable to concentrate and interfere with short-term memory.

Because of my active lifestyle, I aim to drink about 3 liters of water per day. I have a 3-liter container of water that I keep in the fridge and I just fill up my water bottle whenever it empties until I have downed all 3 liters. Your challenge for this week is to make sure that you are getting at least 8 cups of water per day and if you're active, try for even more (think 2-3 liters.) I know some of you may have a hard time getting in that much water, especially if you enjoy sodas and flavored drinks so do the best you can with this challenge. Aim for reducing your flavored beverages and increasing the amount of pure water you drink each day. You can also try adding in some lemon, lime, strawberries or kiwi slices to help flavor your water more naturally.

Time to DRINK UP this week!!

Talking Point: How much water do you typically drink each day? How do you make sure that you are getting enough?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pumpkin Time

I have been CRAVING anything pumpkin for a LONG time. Alas, I could not find any canned pumpkin anywhere. (I know, I know...I could clean out, cook and smash up a real pumpkin but that seems to be a lot of trouble when I know how quick, easy and yummy Libby's pure canned pumpkin is!!)

I was super excited this week when I went to the store and what did my eyes behold....LIBBY'S CANNED PUMPKIN!! I was so thrilled that I bought 5 cans.

I have been having pumpkin inspired dishes all week....pumpkin w/ greek yogurt, pumpkin pancakes, etc...but my favorite pumpkin creation to date is the Pumpkin Smoothie...

It was like drinkable pumpkin pie!! (That maybe doesn't sound as good as it tasted, but believe me, it was YUMMY!)

I added a banana, two big spoonfuls of canned pumpkin, about 2 t. pumpkin pie spice, vanilla protein powder along with water and ice. It was the perfect post-workout meal!

Talking Point: Do you love pumpkin as much as I do? What kind of yummy smoothies do you like to make?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

4th Place

Do any of you remember those "No Fear" shirts that were pretty popular in the early 90's? They would usually have the "No Fear" logo on the front and then some saying on the back. Some of them were pretty inspirational, some were pretty mean and in my humble opinion, a bit inaccurate too. I remember one shirt having this phrase..."Second place, the first loser!" I'm sure this was intended as motivation to always shoot for the top, but I hardly considered a second place finisher in any competition to be a "loser."
Watching the Olympic games every two years though does make me think about 4th place being the "first loser." I have always felt a little bad watching the fourth place finisher in the Olympics. They have obviously worked so hard to even be in the Olympic games in the first place. Being the fourth best athlete in the world is nothing to scoff at either, but just being out of the medals must be a bit disheartening at times.
So what does this have to do with me?
Well, I got the official results from my half-marathon on Saturday. My time was 1:56 (as you can clearly see from the picture). My surprise was that I actually finished 4th in my age group! The race was REALLY small...I usually don't even come close to placing! It made me both excited and a bit sad though...
Happy because, hey, I came in 4th!! With an injury no less!!
A bit sad though because only the top three finishers received a prize (a pretty snazzy backpack) and the recognition. And perhaps the hardest part...I finished only 90 seconds behind the 3rd place finisher in my age group. Awwwwww, so close yet so far away!!
I will do my best to be happy about it though. I really feel like I gave it my all. Could I have gone 90 seconds faster...perhaps. But it's easier to second guess myself now that it's over. I was in a lot of pain at the time and it took just about everything I had not to stop and quit. So I'll try to take a "glass-half-full" approach and shout to the rooftops....
Talking Point: How would you feel about coming in 4th place? Any words of advice, condolences, congratulations, etc.?!?!?!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sep. 20-Sep. 26, 2010)

So how did you do making your vision board from last week's challenge? I have to admit, I haven't finished mine yet. I was a bit preoccupied worrying about my injury and the half-marathon, but I did manage to cut out a few pictures and quotes from my huge magazine collection. I hope to finish mine this next week. If any of you finished your vision board, I would LOVE to see it!

This week's challenge is going to focus on fitness again. The challenge has to do with weight-training. For a long time in my fitness journey I concentrated solely on cardio activities. I figured they gave me the best calorie-burning "bang for my buck" so I did it ALL THE TIME!! I still do a lot of cardio activities (hello, running?!?!?) because I enjoy it and it keeps my heart and mind healthy and alert. But it wasn't until I got serious about weight-training that I started to see some real changes in my body. I have more muscle definition than I ever have before and I like seeing the toned muscles starting to shine through. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely still a work in progress, but I really like the changes that have come my way both physically and mentally from the challenging work of weight lifting.

The benefits of weight-training are hard to deny...fat loss, increased energy, stronger bones, greater muscle definition, just to name a few. Of course it's a great calorie-burner too, especially the aftereffects. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn from just sitting on the couch!

So this week's challenge will have to be personal to where you are at in your weight lifting journey...for some of you, it will be to start to lift, for others it will be to lift more. But decide this week to make weight training an integral part of your workout routine. It will pay off big for you if you're consistent with it. One of the best resources that I have found for some good exercises and programs to start or continue weight-training is this book...

Image found here.

I have several books about weight-training, but this is by far my favorite. It's great for giving detailed pictures and progressions of various moves and it provides lots of different exercises for each body part. It even has some programs designed in it for you to take the guesswork out of what you should be doing. It's also nice because it has exercises you can do whether you workout at home or at a gym. I think it's definitely worth the investment to pick this book up. You can find it here for a pretty good price.

Talking Point: What do you enjoy about weight-training? What is your favorite go-to move or area you enjoy working the most?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pain is temporary, Pride is forever!

That quote was my mantra during the half-marathon today. The BIG NEWS...I survived it!! Now on to tell the tale...

Backing up a bit, about two weeks ago I strained my left glute somehow while doing some walking lunges at the gym. I felt some discomfort, but nothing too bad and I really didn't think anything of it. I only really felt it when I ran, but it was just nagging for a while, until it started to get much, much worse. I was determined to do my last "long" run last Saturday of 8 miles and it was pretty excruciating. I did most of it by myself since I had to slow my pace way down and I completely broke down after 4 miles. I remember yelling (at least in my head)..."This is SOOOO unfair!! I have only one week until the half-marathon and I have been running my butt off!!" (Butt is about as vulgar as I get!!) Then I actually started to chuckle a bit at that point because what I had just said was a bit too literal...I had literally run my "butt" into a huge amount of pain. The last few miles my backside seemed to go numb a bit and I was able to finish up the miles close to what I really wanted my race pace to be (about 8:30-8:40 min/mile.)

I decided to take the next few days off from running and did a lot of cross-training instead. Again, it never seemed to bother me except while running so I really enjoyed the cross-training. Then on Wednesday morning I decided to try a test treadmill run. I made it about 5 minutes before I had to stop. At this point I literally ran into the bathroom at the gym and bawled my eyes out in one of the stalls. I was so beyond frustrated and angry...just two weeks before I had been able to comfortably run 12 miles and now I was struggling to run for 5 minutes!! The pain was sharp and started to head down my hamstring during that treadmill run which I knew was not a good sign. I came home from the gym that day and cried my eyes out again with my husband on the phone. I told him I should just bag the race because I really didn't want to be in that much pain for 2+ hours. I definitely had a "woe-is-me" pitty party that afternoon!!

I spent the next two days considering dropping out (which by the way is what I would recommend to anybody else experiencing that kind of pain...I'm just terrible at following my own advice!!) I also rolled out my backside like crazy (did you know a simple rolling pin makes a great substitute for a foam roller?!?! Every time my son Landon would see me get it out he would say "Ohhh, momma's bottom hurts!") I also popped ibuprofen like it was candy and prayed for a miracle. I even had a blessing last night that somehow I would be able to survive today's run.


I am always nervous before a race, but I was exceptionally apprehensive about this one since I really had no idea what to expect. I wasn't in any pain, but I knew that it was running that always brought it on so I would only find out once I started out. Sure enough, I could feel the pain in my left glute from the very start, but it never got unbearable, just a constant ache. Fortunately there was no shooting pain like there had been on the treadmill. Miles 1-4 went by pretty smoothly, but I could tell I was holding back my running partner so I told her to run her own race and go on ahead. At this point I also turned on my music and it did help distract me from the pain.

Then at mile 7 the pain really started to get to me...not the pain from my left glute though. Fortunately that pain had begun to go numb by this point, but my left hip and especially my left knee really started to ache (I'm sure from compensation!) Miles 7-11 I limped along, hoping that I could survive the misery that was now my life!! Then at mile 11, my mp3 player died...I really missed my music at that point, but I also knew that there was no way I would stop now with only 2 more miles to go. I picked up a bit of speed and realized that unless something catastrophic were to happen, I could still finish my number one finish under 2 hours. It was a magical feeling when I reached mile 13 and I ran my heart out for that last 0.1 miles coming in at exactly 1:56.

I am actually really pleased with that time. It was under 2 hours (yeah!) and actually only a minute off from my PR (1:55). But there was still a bit of disappointment. My running partner had a great race and was able to run it just like we had trained. She finished in 1:49 and ended up taking second place in our age division. I was so happy for her, but a bit disappointed about what could have been. I had trained so well, eaten so well and my times were awesome, but it just wasn't meant to be today.

That is the hard thing about running and especially racing. You can do everything right, but you never know just what kind of body you will have to run with when it comes to race day. I was reminded of two very important lessons today though...

1. I'm STRONGER than I think I am!


2. I can do HARD things!

Today's run was the most painful run of my life (that's saying a lot since I have been running for 15 years now!) But I DID it!! I finished it because I am STRONG and I can do HARD things!! I am also so appreciative of all the prayers and thoughts that were sent my way today. I prayed several times during today's run and I know that it was the Lord who helped me to overcome what I could not have done on my own!

"I can do all things through Christ which STRENGTHENETH me." (Phillipians 4:13)

Now it's time to go rest and massage this aching body!!

Talking Point: Have you ever had a hard experience that made you realize just how tough you really are? I would LOVE to hear about it!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Workin' the Core

I just finished reading an entire chapter about core training while studying to become a personal trainer. I'm sure many of you know by now just how important core training is to your overall health and can greatly improve your fitness abilities as well. A strong core will also make you less apt to experience back pain and will improve your posture and athletic performance. Let's hear it for the core!!

One of the best exercises that you can do to strengthen your core is the plank. Before you begin the plank exercise, practice a "drawing-in maneuver" which is where you pull in your navel toward your spine. It should almost feel like someone has just punched you in the gut. This is the feeling you should try to maintain throughout the entire time that you hold the plank position. Here's what the standard plank position looks like...

(Image found here)

Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders and your forearms should be holding the majority of your weight along with your toes. The rest of your body (head, neck, back, legs) should form a straight line. Draw in your abs as described in the "drawing-in maneuver" and hold this pose for as long as you can maintain good form. As you tire, your bum will start to move up and/or your back will start to arch. Do your best to maintain good form throughout the entire movement.

You can also do a slight variation of the move by resting on one side and doing a side plank...

(Image found here)

Again, your weight will rest on one forearm and the outside edge of one foot while maintaining a straight line with the rest of your body. Hold this position as long as possible.

I heard of a plank contest done at a gym where the winner lasted for over 8 minutes in the plank position!! This got me thinking that maybe we should do a "plank contest" among the readers of this blog. If you're interested in playing along, set a stopwatch and see how long you can hold both the plank and the side plank using good form. Then post your results in the comment section below. Let's see who has the "Core of Steel" shall we?!?!?

Talking Point: What other exercises do you like to do to strengthen your core?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sep. 13-Sep. 19, 2010)

First things first this morning...

The lucky winner of this bondiband is...
Stephanie T.!!!
Congratulations Stephanie!! Unless you've moved I still have your address so I'll be shipping it off to you shortly. I hope this helps to keep your hair back a bit better during your basketball sessions!!
So how did the challenge go for you last week with increasing your workouts in some way? I was able to get in one workout but I hope to be able to do more of those types of interval workouts soon after my half-marathon this Saturday...wait, did I just say THIS Saturday? Why yes, my race is this weekend and I'm both scared and excited about it. Scared because my backside is still giving me issues but excited because I've trained long and hard for it and I just hope and pray that everything somehow comes together for me on race day! Did any of you have any luck in increasing the volume and/or intensity of your workouts this week?
The challenge for this week will be a bit different. It has to do with something that I've wanted to do for myself ever since I started seeing other people make them and incorporate them into their lives. The challenge is to make yourself a "vision board." This will be a visual reminder that you will put up some place to remind you of what your goals are, whatever they may be. Maybe it's to lose 5-10 pounds, build muscle, buy a house, improve a relationship, workout more regularly or to eat healthy foods...whatever your goals may be, you have to envision yourself doing it before you can achieve it and that's what this vision board will do for you. It will also help to keep you motivated when your resolve may be weak!
Here's a description of a vision board that I found here...

A vision board (also called a Treasure Map or a Visual Explorer or Creativity Collage) is typically a poster board on which you paste or collage images that you have torn out from various magazines. It’s simple.

The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with images of who you want to become, what you want to have, where you want to live, or where you want to vacation, your life changes to match those images and those desires.
The Five Steps of Creating a Vision Board:
Step 1: Go through your magazines and tear the images from them. No gluing yet! Just let yourself have lots of fun looking through magazines and pulling out pictures or words or headlines that strike your fancy. Have fun with it. Make a big pile of images and phrases and words.

Step 2: Go through the images and begin to lay your favorites on the board. Eliminate any images that no longer feel right. This step is where your intuition comes in. As you lay the pictures on the board, you’ll get a sense how the board should be laid out. For instance, you might assign a theme to each corner of the board. Health, Job, Spirituality, Relationships, for instance. Or it may just be that the images want to go all over the place. Or you might want to fold the board into a book that tells a story.

Step 3: Glue everything onto the board. Add writing if you want. You can paint on it, or write words with markers.

Step 4: (optional, but powerful) Leave space in the very center of the vision board for a fantastic photo of yourself where you look radiant and happy. Paste yourself in the center of your board.

Step 5: Hang your vision board in a place where you will see it often.
I know that may sound kind of cheesy to some of you, but I think we all tend to underestimate the power of positive thinking and of having concrete goals to focus on in life. By next Monday, I hope to be posting my own vision board. Hopefully this will give me enough motivation to get it done!!
Also, my brother-in-law suggested that I allow for people to check in on their progress on any challenges that they may have started. He's been doing a great job on following the "100 Push-up Challenge." I ended up skipping an entire week (bad Dadra!!) so I am only on Week #3 now. He is scaring me about weeks 4-6 though so maybe it's good that I am a week behind!! So far so good on the plan...I can currently do 30 consecutive push-ups which I'm excited about but wondering how in the world I'll be able to do 100 in just another month. Maybe that's something that should go on my vision board! Anybody else out there that would like to update on their challenges too?
Talking Point: How many of you are going to commit to doing a vision board this week?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bondi Band

So I'm a little bummed right now. My training has been going really well for my half-marathon coming up on the 18th. A couple of weeks ago I tweaked my left hamstring doing some walking lunges, and it has been bothering me ever since. The pain isn't bad enough to quit running, but it is a nuisance. I am trying to stretch it out everyday and am just hoping that it will survive long enough to go 13.1 miles next Saturday. We shall see...

Ever since I cut my hair short, I have had a ridiculous time trying to find a way to keep my hair out of my face when I exercise. When it was longer, a ponytail would usually suffice but even then I would sometimes get some fly-aways that would bug me when I was doing an intense cardio session. I tried many different kinds of bands to try to contain my short locks but I hated how they would ride up my head, slip off or were just too tight. And bobby pins just weren't cutting it anymore. Then I saw an advertisement in Runner's World Magazine about these new headbands called the "Bondiband." Their motto is "No Slip...No Drip" and I have to whole heartily agree. They stay in pace, are comfortable to wear, and even prevent a lot of the sweat from pouring down onto my face while I workout. I got a few different ones, including the one below...

I really love these bondibands and I am now giving one lucky reader a chance to win one too. Just leave a comment telling me why you would like one of these bands (or you can just tell me why you think this blog is sooooo amazing!!:)

Just make your comment sometime before Monday morning and I'll be picking a random reader comment who will then win this...

(If you're not a "Runner Girl," maybe you can give it to someone who is!!)

Talking Point: Have you found any cool workout gear recently that you would like to rave about? I always love finding new products that actually work as advertised!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Training Partner

Well, I didn't actually get a picture of my food plate from last night's BBQ. It was a bit chaotic with 10 kids and 6 adults trying to eat at one time, but fortunately I was able to keep it pretty clean. My plate consisted of some grilled chicken, veggies with muhammara dip, cantaloupe and a few too many servings of veggie chips (love those things!) I did manage to avoid the cake and ice cream and the s'mores though so definitely a success. If there had been brownies, I would probably have given in...they're my absolute favorite desert!

Although I do have a running group that I get together with every Saturday, most of my runs are done solo. I enjoy this time that I have to zone out and think about things for a while.

But when I say I run alone, that's a little bit untrue, since I always run with my very faithful companion. He does a great job at keeping me motivated and monitors our pace very closely. He's always ready for a run (unless he needs charged) and gives me good feedback on how each run goes. This is him...

Awwww, isn't he sweet-looking? I really do love this guy. We've been together for over three years now and I seem to grow even more fond of him with time. We've done two marathon-training programs together and he was there for me when I struggled through the Richmond Marathon and triumphed in the Baltimore Marathon. He has been my constant companion while training for my current half-marthon too. He gets a bit neglected during the winter months (when the treadmill replaces him for a bit), but come Spring, Summer and Fall, he and I become the best of friends again.

In the dark days before the Garmin 305 entered my life, I used to have to map out my distances by car or bike and then guess at what my mileage, pace and total time would be. Now my little friend does it all for me and is amazingly accurate. They have since come out with a newer model (the Garmin 405) but I just can't imagine replacing this little guy, at least not yet!! Yes he is a bit bulky (I look like I have a small computer on my wrist when I run) but I wouldn't trade him!! He is definitely my favorite running gadget (outside of the very necessary Asics Nimbus running shoes I wear of course!)

Talking Point: What is your favorite piece of workout equipment? Do you have a Garmin watch? What do you think of it?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sept. 6-Sept. 12, 2010)

So how did your week go with no sugar? I did pretty well overall (a few mistakes like those candied pecans I mentioned that I didn't even think about!!) I did pass up on a few deserts and ice cream cravings (yeah) but I also seemed to make it up for it other ways (boo!) It was a good challenge, but it seems like anytime I completely ban a food item or food group, I tend to crave it more than ever!! I'll try to strive for more balance this week.

Happy LABOR DAY!! What are your plans for the last holiday weekend of the summer? We plan on grilling out this afternoon with a few of our friends. I will post a picture of my plate later in an effort to motivate myself to keep it clean!!

In honor of "labor" day, this week's challenge will be a fitness challenge for everyone. This week, I want you to think of one way that you can increase the intensity of your workouts. For those of you are don't workout regularly, maybe it will be deciding to exercise 2-3 times this week. For those of you who do workout, try to incorporate more reps, sets, miles, or HIIT training (my personal favorite!!) into your workouts this week. Challenge yourself this week and your body will thank you later!

Talking Point: What are your plans for increasing your "labor" this week? I will be incorporating some new HIIT workouts into my week (found here on this site.) These workouts are short, but pretty nasty!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

My New Running Goal

If you look over at the right side of my blog now, you will see this new little image...
After perusing some other health/fitness blogs, I saw some people had set goals to do a race in all 50 states. I've heard of the 50 States Marathon Club (people who run a marathon in all 50 states) and I've thought that was CRAZY!! But a race in each state seemed more manageable. Then I started thinking about the cost that would entail (the cost of getting to each state, staying in each state and then add on those race entry fees to race in every state....YIKES!) So I decided on a slightly modified goal for me...I have a goal to run (either in a race or simply for recreation) in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. I have 14 states completed, 36 plus the District to complete. One really nice thing about living on the East Coast is that I can complete a lot of these states that are within driving distance fairly easily. I have friends and/or family in those northwestern states so visiting them and running/racing will be a bit easier (and good motivation to make a visit!) Running in Alaska and Hawaii will be really fun goals to meet (I'm hoping to go to Hawaii for our 10 year anniversary...just 3 1/2 years away!!) I think the most challenging part will be all those Midwestern states that are all standing starkly white right now. Anybody have any ideas on how to complete those?!?!?

I always like to have something to work towards in my exercise routines. Obviously this is a LONG term goal of mine (I'd like to do them all before I turn 40, giving me just about 10 years to complete it.) My short term goal is to run the Western Maryland Half Marathon with a PR on September 18th. I've put in the training, but you never know what can hit you on race day to derail your efforts. I may do one more half-marathon this season, but I think I'm putting off doing another marathon this year. I'm just not feeling the "running mojo" that I will need to pound out all those miles. I feel like all the running I've been doing for the half-marathon training has made me go a bit soft in the muscle department (I still weight-train consistently, but not as heavy and I feel like I've lost some definition that I had last spring.) After completing these half-marathons, I'm going to shift my focus a bit more into weight training and HIIT workouts to see what kind of results I can get.

Talking Point: What kind of short and long-term goals do you have related to fitness? Does having something concrete that you are training for help you to workout each day?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Grocery Shopping

You know it's time to go grocery shopping when your fridge starts to look a bit like this...

The only things in good quantity in this fridge are clementines (a new love!!), a few green vegetables (am learning to love) and eggs (have always loved!!) We always tend to have at least two containers of eggs in the fridge at all times. One is for hard-boiled eggs (which I label) and the other for everything else. It's really nice to have an easy protein option available in a pinch, like a good hard-boiled egg/egg whites.

Sometimes I really detest grocery shopping though. I actually love going inside and reading all the labels and seeing the new products that come out, but trying to do all of that while trying to stay within a budget and entertain two squirmy kiddos can be exhausting. I usually try to put it off as long as I can, but once we start to run out of the fresh stuff, I know it's time to enter the war zone again!

An after shot at our newly restocked fridge...

Here's a list of things that can usually be found in our fridge (at least for a few days after grocery shopping anyway)...

Fresh fruit...grapes, apples, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe and clementines are the favorites around here. I try to buy mostly organic when it comes to produce, unless it is something we don't eat the skin of like bananas and cantaloupe.

Fresh vegetables...kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, (though not in the makes your other produce spoil faster), green and red peppers and green beans usually top the list.

Greek yogurt for me, regular yogurt or go-gurts for everyone else!
Ground turkey
Chicken breasts and tenderloins
Organic milk
Yogurt-based salad dressings (these are a little pricey, but oh so good and healthified!! A friend of mine turned me on to these...)
Cottage cheese
Hormel Natural turkey breast slices
Unsweetened applesauce
And my huge 3 liter of water that I strive to drink everyday

Like I said before, I try to buy organic products when I can, but our grocery budget limits me sometimes, so I often have to pick and choose what is really important. Like this week when I saw the price of organic peppers was $5.99 for 2 and I could get regular red and green peppers for $1.69/lb. The budget won out this time and I opted for the cheaper option. Like I said in the previous post, you have to do the best you can and hope for the best sometimes!!

One thing that I do to save a little money is I always buy my nuts in the bulk section of our grocery store. They are a lot cheaper this way and actually taste fresher in my opinion. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts and pecans are my faves!!

I also like to try new things each week to see if I like them (or if anybody besides myself will eat them!!) My new items for this week were...

Individual servings of instant brown rice (perfect for lunch-on-the-go or even a quick meal at home)

Ryvita crispbread crackers (I've tried and love the Wasa brand but I thought I would give these a whirl.) I'll let you know soon what I think of these two new products!

So that's a little look into our food world around these parts.

Talking Point: What kinds of foods do you like to eat? Do you enjoy trying out new things when you grocery shop? What are your refrigerator staples?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Perfection vs. Precision

Some of you have asked questions regarding the "no sugar" challenge for this week. I think each person will have to decide what "no sugar" means to them. For me personally, I will be avoiding deserts, candy, cake, ice cream and the like, but sugar from more natural foods like fruit and milk will still be acceptable. Take for instance last night...I had a group dinner at my house where I ate a few candied pecans on my salad (without even thinking about it) but I did pass on the homemade peach cobber and ice cream. Even though technically I ate some sugar, I still count it as a successful evening over all.

There are times in life where you just have to do the best you can with what you have to work with. If I had all the money in the world, I would love to shop at Whole Foods and buy "organic" everything. Unfortunately our grocery budget doesn't allow this so I have to pick and choose what is important to me. And yes, my kids still love to eat fruit snacks and bright orange-colored macaroni and cheese! But they also like things like shredded carrots and apples dipped in peanut butter so I do my best to strike a balance in the things that they eat and try not to beat myself up about it.

I think we as women really give ourselves a hard time by constantly striving for a state of "perfection." We feel a need to be perfect mothers, perfect wives, perfect friends, perfect sisters, etc. while also trying to attain the look of perfection we see glaring down at us from lofty billboards and magazine covers. When we fail to meet these impossible objectives, we get down on ourselves and wonder why we can't do or be better. If you have ever had any of these feelings, you might like this Youtube video. I found it very interesting to watch and certainly put things in a better perspective for me...

Really makes you think, doesn't it? No wonder people become depressed when they strive to attain something that isn't even real!!

So instead of striving to attain perfection, focus more on aiming for precision. Do those things repeatedly that give you the results that you want to see. This doesn't mean that you won't make mistakes along the way, but as you learn from them, you will start to develop a more concrete pattern for success in every aspect of your life. You will start to see the value that you have to offer to this world regardless of the shape of your nose or the girth of your hips.

Talking Point: Do you ever get discouraged when looking at magazines or billboards and their images of what a person should look like? What is something you did today that makes a difference in the world? And don't overlook the small things today I wiped down the treadmill after I was done using it so that the next person wouldn't have to run in my sweaty mess. I guess I made the world just a little bit better!